The process of recording, listening to, transcribing, and then reading my conversation with Julia Tayloe about our photographs by the Berlin Wall brought my attention to the way I speak and inspired me to try to change some of the habits that I seem to have developed.
I think of myself as a relatively eloquent speaker. I have always been fairly confident speaking and presenting in front of others; I contribute in class, assuming that I sound smart enough. To my way of thinking, my words are simply my words – I never made much of a distinction between the way I sound in writing versus how I speak. I think my writing usually sounds fairly smart, so I have just assumed that my speaking does, too. That is, until I listened to my conversation with Julia and read the transcription. Transcribing this so-called “academic” conversation has given me a new perspective on how I sound when I speak. Reading through our conversation, all of our verbal ticks suddenly stand out so clearly. The frequency with which I start a thought without an apparent plan and am unable to finish it is striking, and I seem to struggle to find my words before I start to speak, which results in my hemming and hawing for lengthy amounts of time. There are certain meaningless filler-words that I clearly use to stall and to make my statements less committal, such as “kind of.” This exercise has made me realize that I need to be more aware of the words that I use and more thoughtful about how I speak. I want to sound smart when I speak, and I want my speaking voice and writing voice to have a consistent sound. So, in keeping with the theme of the course, this experience has sparked what I hope will be a change – a personal revolution, if you will – in the way that I speak and in my awareness around speech.